Russia-Ukraine war: Putin visits Crimea and threatens arrest warrant

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move most of the world denounced as illegal.

KIEV, Ukraine – Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of Ukraine’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula, a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader who accused him of war crimes .

Putin was visiting an art school and children’s center that are part of a project to develop a historical park on the site of an ancient Greek colony, Russian state news agencies said.

The ICC accused him on Friday of bearing personal responsibility for the crime Kidnapping of children from Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion of the neighboring country that began almost 13 months ago.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move most of the world denounced as illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Russia to withdraw from the peninsula and the areas occupied since last year.

Putin has shown no intention of giving up the profits of the Kremlin. Instead, on Friday he stressed the importance of holding Crimea.

“Obviously, security issues are now the top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol,” he said, referring to Crimea’s largest city. “We will do whatever is necessary to ward off threats.”

Putin took a plane to travel the 1,132 miles from Moscow to Sevastopol, where he took the wheel of the car that transported him around the city, according to Moscow Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev.

The first arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court was issued against him a leader one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.

The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow – and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough. However, the chances of Putin being tried before the ICC are highly unlikely as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradites its nationals.

Despite the court’s lawsuit and its impact on Putin, the United Nations and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that the deal was a war deal let grain flow from Ukraine expanded to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, although no one said for how long.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted that the deal had been extended by 120 days, the period Ukraine, Turkey and the UN wanted. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Russian news agency TASS Moscow agreed to a 60-day extension.

Russia and Ukraine are both major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other affordable food products that developing countries depend on. They signed separate deals with the UN and Turkey last year to allow food to leave Ukraine’s blocked ports.

Russia has complained that supplies of its fertilizers – which its deal was intended to facilitate – are not making it to world markets. The country briefly withdrew from the deal in November before rejoining and agreeing to a 120-day extension.

In Ukraine, authorities reported widespread Russian attacks between Friday night and Saturday morning. The Ukrainian Air Force Command wrote on Telegram that 11 of 16 drones were shot down in attacks targeting the capital Kiev and the western province of Lviv, among others.

The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said the Ukrainian air defense shot down all drones heading for the capital. Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Saturday that three of six drones were shot down, while the other three hit a district bordering Poland.

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks came from the east coast of the Sea of ​​Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which also borders Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military reported that Russian forces launched 34 airstrikes, one missile attack and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire between Friday morning and Saturday morning. Falling debris hit the southern Ukrainian province of Kherson, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten.

Russia still focuses the bulk of its offensive operations in Ukraine’s industrial east, concentrating its attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk.

Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said one person was killed and three wounded when 11 towns and villages in the province were shelled on Friday.

Further west, Russian missiles hit a residential area overnight in the city of Zaporizhia, the capital of the partially occupied province of the same name. No casualties were reported, but houses were damaged, said Anatoliy Kurtev of the Zaporizhia City Council.

British military officials said on Saturday that Russia is likely to extend conscription to bolster its troops fighting in Ukraine. The UK Ministry of Defense said in its latest analysis that MPs in the Russian Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, have introduced a bill to change the draft age for men from the current 18-27 to 21-30 years.

The ministry said many Russian men aged 18 to 21 are applying for exemption from military service because they are enrolled in colleges. The wider age range would mean that eventually they would have to serve. UK officials said the law is expected to be passed and come into force in January 2024. Russia-Ukraine war: Putin visits Crimea and threatens arrest warrant

Laura Coffey

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